“Dear Mentor, Something is Changing…!” by Yvonne Thevenot, ICM-P, ACM-F, CCMP

Job eliminated?  Tapped for an executive appointment?  Applying for your first role?  Applying for your next role?  Declined for a role?  Starting a new role?.....  The list goes on.  As we consider these critical career moments it is almost guaranteed that if you have experienced any of these, you will recall the role of the people who helped you think through your journey, helped you stay positive and focused despite the ambiguity, and who absolutely believed in you every step of the way.  There is a strong likelihood that the people you are thinking of, are your mentors.

“How could they possibly have been my mentor?  They never once told me what I should do!”

A common myth of mentoring is that the mentor provides the answers.  The mentor somehow knows the right path for the mentee and instructs them along their journey.  The mentee, grateful for the mentor’s wisdom follows the path, and somehow magically all turns out just right.  Magical, mythical, and…not true.  A mentor in fact will guide their mentee through questions, and with thoughtful listening, support and encouragement, will help the mentee uncover the answers for themselves, framed in their goals, their values, and their personal commitment to themselves.

So why then a mentor in a time of change?

In “Employee’s Survival Guide to Change” by Jeffrey M. Hiatt, he asks the employee to ask themselves the question “what does this change mean to me?”  The power of engaging a mentor in times of change truly stems the power and simplicity of this question.  While of course someone can ask themselves this question, imagine how even more powerful this question will be coming from the voice of your mentor.  And through reflecting your thoughts back to you, allowing you to consider this question even more deeply.

  1. What does this change mean to you?
  2. What do you love about what this change holds in store?
  3. What has you worried, or concerned?
  4. How have you helped yourself explore the alternatives?
  5. If you chose not to make this change, then what?

Broad-based organizational change often impacts multiple levels of the organization at the same time.  What that means then, is that just around the time that you might want to talk to your manager about the impact of a change, they are experiencing all the anxiety, ambiguity and complexity of change themselves.  A manager may have a vested personal interest in your change that may be challenging to set aside to have a mentoring discussion centered on strictly your goals.

So, if you find yourself in the middle of a change, feeling anxious, unfocused and conflicted, this is no doubt the perfect time to reach out to your mentor.  And when you do, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Your mentor will guide you, ask you questions and help you think, but cannot possibly know what is “best” for you.
  2. You will feel emotional: hopeful, angry, sad, excited, conflicted.  Notice and accept those emotions as expected, human, and welcome – take some deep breaths, and allow yourself to transition to a space of clarity of thought and a plan for next steps.
  3. It’s ok to change your mind. As more information is available, as you transition through the change, you can fully expect your first impression or bias changes as well.  That would be reflected in your views even on as simple a question as “what does this change mean to you?”
  4. Accept that information will be incomplete and do not spend “mental calories” trying to solve the unsolvable. Life is full of decisions that we make with incomplete information, accept that this might be another on that list.
  5. And if you don’t have a mentor to reach out to – make the most of a journal to pose some questions for yourself and then in a thoughtful and mindful way, respond with all the honesty and candor to yourself that a mentor would demand of you.

And mentors, some tips for you:

  1. Resist the urge to “tell”: be extra diligent about jotting questions down in advance and prepare your mind to listen deeply to what is being said…and not said!
  2. Accept that your mentee may be emotional:  mentally prepare for this and have a plan of how you will stay in the moment, and respond.
  3. Be prepared for “I don’t know” and understand that may in fact be true: your mentee simply may NOT know at that moment.  Your role is to scratch at that with the next set of probing questions such as “what additional information would be helpful?….”have you tried writing down the pros and cons”… “have you been in this position before and how did you move through it then”….
  4. Support the dialogue with pro-activity: an off-cycle check-in may be just the friendly reach-out that your mentee needed…but didn’t know how to ask for.
  5. Be prepared to have unfinished business: sometimes as your mentee “crosses over” into a more contented and focused state they may not even realize that you helped them get there, and you may simply stop hearing from them or being updated as they move onto the business of their future.  Understand your role on the path has been of value, and knowing that life always has more change to offer, they will no doubt be back.

Best wishes, and Happy Mentoring!

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Yvonne Thevenot – Business Effectiveness, Change Management and Performance Excellence

 Yvonne Thevenot is role model, coach, mentor and relentless advocate when it comes to business effectiveness, change management and performance excellence.  Her consulting practice draws on extensive first-hand experience in change management as a sponsor of change, business lead and change manager at both strategic and tactical levels.  With degrees from the University of Manitoba and Dalhousie University, her passion for learning contributes to professional designations as a Professional Agrologist, a Certified Financial Planner, a certified mentor and an accredited change manager from two different global organizations.  Her mentoring practice extends to a wide range of professionals in corporate, privately held, and not-for-profit businesses, in a variety of sectors, and with mentees at all stages of career.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wanted to share with you the content from a presentation that was given by a young person to his school. The message that follows is a powerful one but let me first introduce you to the author:

My name is Dawson and I’m eleven years old and in grade six.  My hobbies at home are to hang out with my brother, play a few video games and collect hockey cards. I’m a huge fan of football and love to play as well.  I play in the RYFFL flag league in the spring and fall.  I cheer for the Rough Riders and the Dallas Cowboys.

Here is Dawson's message:

What the World Gains From Optimism

Good morning honorable judges, time keeper, fellow contestants and special guests.  Today the topic of discussion is what the world gains from optimism.  As you know optimism is a positive mindset like seeing your glass half full rather than seeing your glass half empty.  Have you ever wondered what the world would be like without optimism?  People would feel sad, unhappy and discouraged.  Optimism impacts the world in many aspects of our life including home, learning and sports. In order for the world to be a better place it needs to start with us and our positive attitudes.

Now let’s discuss how optimism impacts our daily lives.   Optimism impacts our daily lives with family friends and even chores you do around the house.  One of the most optimist people I know is my Grandma.  She is always happy and encouraging me to try new things.  She gives me a boost of confidence and is always smiling.  She’s always says good things about me when I get my report card back like “I am so proud of you”.  This makes me more optimistic and want to keep doing my best.  How you react to someone is how they are going to react to the next person and that is like the domino effect.  If all of you in this gym today said something positive every day to someone this world would benefit from optimism.

We could also talk about how optimism affects learning.  Optimism affects learning by encouraging you keep trying at a problem.  You are more likely to feel good about yourself and succeed on your test assignment or work than if you gave up.  As a pessimist you are more likely to give up, not succeed or won’t continue to try.  It has been proven that the more you try the more you learn.  “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right”. This is a quote by Henry Ford the very successful founder of the Ford Motor Company.  This quote inspired me by not quitting on things that are hard in life. This quote also ties back into optimism because if you think you can you can do it but if you think you can’t you won’t.  Attitude is everything!

Another topic of discussion is how optimism influences sports.  Optimism influences sports by having a team full of players that have optimistic mindsets.  This leads them to a better chance of winning.  A leader can help lead their team by training their mind to think positively so they can believe they can beat the other team.  If the leader did not have a positive mindset then they could not lead their team to victory nor be the best leader they could be.  A well-known example of this is Darian Durant, the former quarterback of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.  On his right arm he has a tattoo that says “Against all odds, I am going to shine”.  Darian Durant has fought many battles with his injuries but always was there to support his team.  This is an example of no matter how hard something is you can push through it, do your best and hopefully succeed.

As I just talked about, optimism affects may things in our life like home, learning and sports.  But if you think about all the positive things in life then you don’t have to worry about the pessimists.  I think the following quote ties back in with optimism by not just giving up but trying one more time and learning from your mistakes. And I quote “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. “Thomas A. Edison

Thank you,

Dawson Herback

 

Social mentoring

 

 

 

 

 

You are probably well versed on social networking; millions of people log into some of the popular social networking sites every day and some companies have even set up their own social networking sites for their employees. People are checking out who is viewing their profiles and who is connected to whom, as well as sharing status updates, liking things, commenting and finding out what their network is doing.  But, when it comes to social mentoring, there are a lot of uncertainties about what it is and how it all works.

Let’s look back to the time before social networking sites. People networked by attending events and functions. They also asked friends, family and colleagues for referrals. Before social mentoring sites, you would try to figure out who your ideal mentor was and reach out to them by giving them a call. You may have even dropped by the Human Resources department and asked for a mentor. Some HR managers would have taken out an Excel spreadsheet and matched you to a mentor and others may have provided materials on how to approach a mentor in the workplace. These approaches still happen and still work today. But it’s more effective to integrate some new strategies while continuing to use some of the old ones.

Social mentoring sites have made it easier to find a mentor/mentee -- think of these sites as the eHarmony of mentoring. Like eHarmony, you can quickly build a profile that outlines who you are and what you do and then you can search for someone and ask for an initial meeting. In the case of eHarmony, you would be asking for a date, which can be a lot more intimidating than social mentoring.

Who to invite to a mentoring relationship

On social networking sites, you generally reach out to the people that you know. There are some exceptions to this rule; open networkers, for example, invite everyone to their network and accept all invitations. For social mentoring, sometimes you are reaching out to a total stranger, however, sometimes you may be joining a specific mentoring community which brings people together with a commonality such as working at the same company, belonging to the same association and/or graduating from the same college or university. The neat thing about this is that everyone is connected because of an organization that they are passionate about and committed to and therefore they will be more likely to pay-it-forward.

Before you invite someone to be your mentor, think about what you are focussed on developing.  Also, you may want to determine who your ideal mentor is, what they do, which city they live in and other things that are important to you. Most social mentoring sites will make it easier for you by recommending your top mentors/mentees. Read through their profiles carefully and determine if they are the right fit.

How to meet your mentor/mentee

On a social networking site, you ask someone to join your network or be your friend. For social mentoring, you will arrange an actual meeting. Many believe that everything will be online and that you will only be meeting by video conferencing, live text chat, texting and email. But, that is actually not the case; you may also be meeting in-person and over-the-phone. Actually, if you are thinking about establishing a longer-term, formal mentoring relationship, I recommend that the first conversation be over-the-phone, because then you can get a feeling as the whether there is good chemistry between the two of you and you can get a better sense as to whether this person will be able to help you or not.

The advantages of social mentoring sites

The disadvantages of social mentoring sites

As you can see, we are just scratching the surface here; social mentoring sites open the door to amazing possibilities – things you may have never imagined for yourself and/or your organization. They can help you to learn anything, grow and develop one conversation at a time. With the expertise that you are looking to gain, you can get connected to people from all over the world. It’s pretty exciting, just go into it with an open mind, build meaningful mentoring relationships, stay engaged, and nothing will be able to hold you back from achieving your goals.

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About the Author:

Shawn Mintz, the President of MentorCity has over 10 years’ experience in the career and employment services sector. He has created award-winning mentoring initiatives that have helped thousands of people to achieve greater success. MentorCity provides on-line mentoring and coaching programs that connect your members to meaningful relationships. There is also a global mentoring community that can be accessed by the public. For further information, please visit www.MentorCity.com.

We are delighted to have Shawn Mintz as a guest author to our blog site. Shawn is very passionate about mentoring and believes in the "gift of mentoring".

 

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